Judge Upholds President Trump’s Curbs on H-1B Outsourcing

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The decision is a big labor rights win for American employees because it recognizes a president can use his authority under section 212(f) of federal law to block the inflow of foreign workers if they have a damaging impact on Americans’ economic circumstances.

“The court expands executive authority under 212(f) to previously unknown limits,” said a tweeted complaint from one of the lawyers who helps to import the foreign workers for U.S. jobs.

The decision is a big setback for the Fortune 500 companies objecting to Trump’s June 22 proclamation. The proclamation temporarily bars the entry of foreign workers via the huge H-1B, J-1, H-2B, and L-1 labor pipelines, which keep roughly two million compliant and cheap contract workers in jobs needed by unemployed blue collar and white collar Americans.

The decision will likely be appealed, and tech sector business groups have filed a similar lawsuit in California.

“The court rejects the Plaintiffs’ statutory and constitutional challenges to the Proclamations … [and] the court concludes that the Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed on their challenges to the Proclamations,” said the 85-page decision by Judge Amit Mehta, at the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C.

The plaintiffs and business groups had argued Trump’s curbs on the hiring of foreign workers were not justified because they were “rational,” according to their studies and claims. The judge dismissed that argument, saying the business groups:

… insist that nonimmigrants like H-1B and H-2B visa applicants work in sectors where “unemployment is low, rather than in the high-unemployment areas that the entry suspension is supposedly meant to target.” Finally, they maintain that the exclusion of immigrant and nonimmigrant labor actually is counterproductive to the President’s stated goal of improving the economic prospects of American workers. They cite declarations from experts, economic studies, and even statements from federal agencies to make the point that the entry of aliens in fact creates jobs for American workers, and the idea that new arrivals take jobs from Americans is a fallacy. None of these arguments is ultimately persuasive.

The argument fails, the judge said, because the business lawyers “demand for a “rational justification” and a “rational investigation” far exceeds what the [Supreme] Court in Trump v. Hawaii required for a valid presidential “finding.”

The lawsuit was filed in the name of 169 contract workers from India and their spouses. The Indians hold valid H-1B visas and are being denied entry to the United States to retake jobs that would otherwise go to Americans.

However, the judge sided with roughly 40,000 foreigners who had won the right to immigrate into the United States via the 2020 diversity visa lottery. The judge directed the Department of State to register their documents before the year is over.

The case is “Panda et al., Plaintiffs, v. Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security.” The case number is 1:20-01907-KBJ.